Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Black Widow, Volume 2: The Tightly Tangled Web Review (Nathan Edmondson, Phil Noto)

Minor spoilers ahead, I guess, so… yeah!

When she’s not avenging, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow is still doing missions on the side for money to pay off her conscience for the bad things she did way back when - but this second volume shows Nathan Edmondson’s already run this idea into the ground.

The missions themselves are largely unvaried: Natasha finds a target to protect or kill, faceless guards with guns shoot at her, she escapes – repeat. As if to make up for the lack of interest in the missions themselves, Natasha’s teamed up with a variety of characters: the Punisher, X-23, Winter Soldier, and she encounters Hawkeye, Daredevil and the Howling Commandos.

If you read Edmondson’s The Punisher, Volume 2: Border Crossing, then you’ve already read the two-part crossover between Natasha and Frank. Also, I thought the Howling Commandos were hunting Frank down – I presume they’re only hunting down one non-powered vigilante killer and are ok with Natasha? I thought Natasha and Frank were amigos though – wouldn’t she share Frank’s beef with them?

Once again, Edmondson’s hammering home the peculiar message that Natasha can only work alone (she’s a widow!) even though she’s been a big part of the Avengers for the longest time and she works alongside several other characters in this book! He’s also trying to hint that Natasha’s “losing control” or something? Neither of these ideas are at all convincingly written.

Anderson Cooper cameos at the end for some “hidden truths” about Natasha which are apparently shocking to the Avengers even though there’s no way they can’t already know this about her. Edmondson’s really grasping for anything in these issues, isn’t he?

If the writing is quite poor, Phil Noto’s art once more proves to be the strongest link in the chain. Gorgeous, gorgeous pages fill this book – if it weren’t for Noto, I don’t think I’d even be bothering with this series. I noticed a couple panels that looked a bit rugged – Nat looking suddenly quite chunky then back to being svelt in the next – but I’ll chalk that up to Noto gunning the engine to hit the monthly deadline because almost the entire book is flawlessly drawn in his unique style.

The Tightly Tangled Web is full of forgettable, unengaging stories centred around some badly thought out ideas but, like polishing a turd, Phil Noto pulls it all together with his fantastic art. Edmondson’s scripts have gotten worse since the first volume but I liked this second volume well enough for Noto’s contributions alone. It may not be a great read but Black Widow is still one of the best-looking Marvel titles being published right now.

Black Widow, Volume 2: The Tightly Tangled Web

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